Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic.jpg
Photograph: HINA/ Slavko Vukadin/ ds

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said in Brussels on Friday, having met with leaders of European Union institutions, that it was necessary to focus more on Europe's southeast, where the situation was worse than before.

She wrapped up a two-day visit to Brussels by meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk, telling Croatian reporters they talked about a Council meeting to take place next week, about cooperation between the EU and Turkey, and the situation in Croatia's neighbourhood.

Grabar-Kitarovic said her interlocutors in Brussels, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Parliament President Martin Shulz and Tusk, agreed with her observations.

"This especially refers to the need that we focus more on developments in Southeast Europe and in some countries, that the membership prospects continue while at the same time stressing the need for further reforms and the need for arranging relations not just within countries, but between neighbouring states," she said.

She said the situation in Southeast Europe, "unfortunately, is worse than it was a year and a half or two years ago. That is due to some objective reasons for which, perhaps, we weren't sufficiently ready, but now we have a chance, not just through the European Council next week but through really stronger dialogue, to talk about how, through cooperation, we can protect all our states from all potential threats and how to deal with outstanding issues in parallel with EU or NATO accession."

Asked to comment on the foreign policy of Croatia's outgoing government, the president said it had been too short a time for a general assessment. "There have been good steps, good moves to protect national interests, but I think we could have cooperated a little better, acted with a little more coordination," she said, hopeful "that with the new government and parliament we will have more frequent regular coordination meetings at which we will not only exchange talking points but strategically think about Croatian interests."

The president said "the Foreign Ministry didn't do much about a new national security strategy, which will be extremely important, so it's important that we, the top officials and all who represent Croatia in international bodies, have coordinated positions."

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